Money spent on advertising directed at the United States’ rapidly growing Hispanic population has increased monumentally in the past few years.
But corporations and businesses have yet to fully take advantage of the Hispanic market, with many spending less than 1 percent of their budgets on Hispanic advertising, according to findings by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.
In Manatee and Sarasota counties, businesses in the past two years have begun investing manpower and money to entice the growing Hispanic market.
” There is a return on the investment here and I think people are finally starting to notice,” said Pedro Perez, co-owner of Sarasota-based Nuevo Advertising that exclusively deals in the Hispanic market. “Now, slowly the Hispanic market is becoming a sought-after commodity.”
Spending on national Hispanic print and television advertising grew 4.7 percent from 2003 to 2004.
In the following two years, more than $7.3 million was spent on print and television ads in that same market, according to data from TNS Media Intelligence and Market Development, which provides the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies with its data.
As consumers, the purchasing power of the Hispanic population in the United States, by the end of this year or next, is expected to reach $1 trillion, said Jose Lopez-Varela, vice chair of AHAA and CEO of ADN Communications in Coral Gables.
” Those are numbers that corporate America really pays attention to,” he said.
But still, more than 100 of the top 250 print and television advertisers in the United States shy away from spending in the Hispanic market, the study found.
” Whenever there’s something you don’t know about your human instinct is to kind of step back and take a closer look at it,” said Lopez-Varela.
One reason for the hesitation, he said, is the difficulty that exists for American companies to understand Latino consumers. Simply translating ads does not work.
Successful Hispanic advertisement comes from understanding the Latino consumer, he said. Made up of 31 countries, the Hispanic population uses the Spanish language differently and has different cultures and traditions.
” That doesn’t mean they have the same word for everything and they all act and think the same way,” Lopez-Varela said.
The majority of Hispanic advertising targets the top U.S. Hispanic markets – Florida, California, Illinois and New York, the study showed.
But spending has also spread to smaller Latino markets, including cities in Nebraska, South Carolina, North Carolina and Iowa, mimicking an increasing population nationwide, said Lopez-Varela.
Within the Hispanic advertising market are blue chip companies like Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. Newer businesses tend to be financial service companies like banks and mortgage companies, he said.
As the U.S. advertising market competes with technology advances like digital voice recorders, cable television and the Internet – all options that make skipping over commercials easier – the Hispanic market remains concentrated, Lopez-Varela said. Most Hispanic consumers only have a few media options.
In Manatee and Sarasota counties, Latinos have limited print publications and television and radio stations allowing advertisers to reach a much larger audience, said Perez, who said his agency is the only of its kind in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
The greater Tampa Bay region is the ideal test market for companies diving into the Hispanic market for the first time, he said. If an advertising campaign is successful in the area’s diverse Hispanic community, it will be successful statewide, even nationally, said Perez.
” It’s not just about advertising anymore,” he said. “It’s more so about return on investment.”
Until 2005, local businesses were spending minimally by translating their English ads into Spanish, Perez said.
Now, they are investing money as they would for English advertising, creating accountability for Hispanic advertising and having an understanding of the Latino consumer.
” It’s getting more professional,” said Perez. “It’s getting tighter, more legitimate.”
For Spanish language publications, Hispanic-owned businesses are not traditionally advertisers, said Andres Lopez, chief operating officer for TVNet Media Group, which owns the daily newspaper Siete Dias and La Guia magazine.
In Latin America, he said, where countries are smaller and more densely populated, advertising is minimal and relies on word of mouth.
” They’re not very aggressive in advertising,” Lopez said. “People who are investing are seeing good results.”
Ana Peterson, owner of Markana Mortgage in Bradenton, advertises regularly in regional magazines such as La Guia and La Pulga. It brings business but really increases name recognition, she said.
” It keeps my face in the market,” she said. “This business (real estate) now is the time to show the people who is who.”
The dragging real estate market contributes to some advertisers’ willingness to spend in the Hispanic market, said Paula Orjuela, broker for 1st Option Properties Inc. and owner of Southshore International Mortgage.
Home prices have dropped, bringing in more Latino buyers and more reason to spend on ads, she said.
” Hispanics are moving every day to this area,” said Orjuela, who has lived in the area for 14 years. “Ten years ago, there was nothing like it is right now.”